The “Final Solution”
It has been established that the Final Solution to the Jewish question was adopted on January 20, 1942, when representatives of the SS, the Gestapo, and the government ministries met in suburban Berlin. This meeting has gone down in history as the Wansee Conference, named after the street where the meeting was held. Under the leadership of Reinhard Heydrich, those assembled agreed that all Jews should be killed and that this be accomplished at specific sites.
However, this measure had been foreshadowed many years earlier with the publication of Mein Kampf and Hitler's rise to power. In a sense, the decision made at the Wansee Conference was nothing more than the reaching of a consensus. The Einsatzgruppen had already begun its bloody work during the previous year.
The System of Slaughter
We know that in June 1941, Hitler instructed Himmler to establish extermination camps in fixed centers and that Himmler had told Rudolf Hoss, the commandant at Auschwitz, to enlarge his labor camp so that it could also be deployed for killing. On July 31, 1941, Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the SD, told Adolf Eichmann, the man responsible for the administration of the extermination of the Jews, that he had just met with Himmler and was informed that Hitler had ordered the physical annihilation of the Jews.
In the fall of 1941, Himmler assigned SS General Odilo Globocnik to the task of implementing Aktion Reinhard (named after Reinhard Heydrich), which called for the systematic murder of all the Polish and Soviet Jews. To accomplish this directive, construction of the death camps commenced in earnest.